Designing a New Future: The Next Generation have the Power to make a Positive Impact

Debbie McKeegan
July 27, 2023

Image credit: @laceyaylesphotography

Are we about to redefine the job description of the Designer?

In truth, we already have. Across all industries the role of the designer is in flux as we adapt to a new eco-positive manufacturing landscape. Simply designing patterns, prints and products in a vacuum for a defined target consumer, or creating products that hit a price point or visual aesthetic regardless of their environmental impact – is no longer viable, we need the creative to deliver so much more.

The designer of the next decade must act as a solutions architect, crafting a product that is built to last or built to be repurposed, recycled, or remade. Its provenance should be transparent and both ethical and viable. Good design is after all the best architect for environmental balance. Mother nature taught us that.

As a creative, the designer must now onboard a deeper understanding of the products components, the manufacturing process, the data and information held within the supply chain and final products subsequent circularity – to deliver a product with a defined and credible plan for end-of-life. This will soon be regulatory.

Designers must do all of this whilst staying up to date with the latest trends, analysing global shifts & events and predicting their impact, plus accurately reading consumer buying behaviours and all the while remain upbeat, creative and productive. Only then can a designer work to create a successful product that’s built to meet market preferences.

This is how successful designers create successful products and it’s no happy accident.

India Lupton presented a powerful, theatrical collection at GFW produced in collaboration with Kornit Digital using their Presto Max technology.
Image credit: @laceyaylesphotography

The Product Designers of the Future Hold Immense Power

They say “Design is in the Detail” and that statement has never been more accurate than now. The impact of good and bad design choices is real, and the collective and individual impact of these decisions on our environmental future is colossal. We have all witnessed the impact of poor design – let’s accelerate the change and switch to a new future by empowering the next generation. They have the energy, the drive, and the vision to make systemic change.

Innovation and Technology and the Race to Stay on Track

We talk a lot about on-demand production, we should also discuss the benefits and challenges of the super-fast, on-demand design cycle and the speed with which future (and present) creatives are expected to design and build a product.

Staying on track with (and ahead) of technology is no easy feat, the equipment, materials, software, and applications that the textile/design industry are using are changing rapidly. It takes an energised mind to adapt and onboard new technologies in a commercial environment. Often, it’s even harder for the academic sector to keep up with this accelerating speed of change. Staying close to the industry is essential if we are to equip the talent of the future with the correct skills. Industry collaboration is key to closing the skills gap for the next generation and the Graduate Fashion Foundation has been offering a vital bridge and support for over thirty years.

Fashion encompasses all ages and all genera and provides a platform and community that encourages freedom and self-expression. Image credit: @laceyaylesphotography

Celebrating Emerging Talent at Graduate Fashion Week

Graduate Fashion Week is a yearly event celebrating the talented graduates emerging into the industry. It’s a much-anticipated event and represents a year’s toil for all of the graduates who display their work at the show. The venue buzzes with an electric energy and a collective excitement for the future, felt by graduates and industry alumni alike.

GFW is part of the The Graduate Fashion Foundation, a charitable organisation and an essential part of the fashion industry. It is the springboard for new talent. Over the past 30 years, more than 100,000 newly graduated and undergraduate students have been supported and guided by the charity. Dedicated to encouraging young people, GFF is responsible for launching the careers of some of the most successful designers of our time including Christopher Bailey MBE, who was the winner of the first ever Gold Award and now a Lifetime Patron of the charity; Stella McCartney, Giles Deacon, Matthew Williamson, and Julien MacDonald to name a few.

Educating the Next Gen of young designers with Kornit Digital

In partnership with Graduate Fashion Foundation, Kornit Digital this year presented an exciting competition to final year students from member universities who were using print as part of their graduate collection.

Finalists were flown to Dusseldorf to experience Kornits’ ground-breaking digital printing technology in action. The students, eight in total, were given direct access to highly skilled application specialists for a workshop and hands-on experience with Kornits’ industrial printing technology. Using a wide range of fabrics that included cotton satin, linen, organic panama, poplin plus a range of synthetics: faux silk, rPET jersey and lycra, the graduates’ patterns were digitally printed and then flown back to the UK and used to create their garments for their final year collections.

Looking to the future, graduates were also introduced to Kornit X a global hub, offering on-demand fulfilment. As we move to on-demand manufacturing for the fashion supply chain, Kornit X offers a vital conduit for designers, independent brands and retailers to source, manufacture and fulfil their apparel garments worldwide.

Kira Banks created a collection of stunning textural prints using Kornits unique XDi technology, on the PRESTO machine. Her printed designs titled “The Future of Antarctica” were inspired by the climate crisis and it impact on the ice caps. Image credit: @laceyaylesphotography

The finale of which was the much anticipated and adored final year graduate showcase in June, London. Watched by the global fashion industry and historically attended by a rich fashion cohort, this runway has launched many leading names in the fashion.

For the talented graduates and winners of the Kornit Digital Printed Textile competition Kira Banks, India Lupton and Tamara Hejja this is only the start of their journey. We hope their digital experience ignites an interest in print technology and catapults them into the spotlight to open new doors into the world of fashion and fashion innovation.